July 30, 2018

According to Mario Pei, more than half of all words adopted into English from Latin now have meanings quite different from the original ones. A word that shows just how wide-ranging these changes can be is "nice", which is first recorded in 1290 with the meaning of stupid and foolish. Seventy-five years later Chaucer was using it to mean lascivious and wanton. Then at various times over the next 400 years it came to mean extravagant, elegant, strange, slothful, unmanly, luxurious, modest, slight, precise, thin, shy, discriminating, dainty, and – by 1769 – pleasant and agreeable. The meaning shifted so frequently and radically that it is now often impossible to tell in what sense it was intended, as when Jane Austen wrote to a friend, 'You scold me so much in a nice long letter ... which I have received from you.'
Bill Bryson (via James Harvey).
This feels like it justifies my descriptivist leaning that knowing latin roots can tell you interesting things (recently in "The Serve" I read how "secretary" is one privy to "secrets" which I had never noticed before) but true understanding is found by observing usage across many contexts.
I have not stopped thinking about this Red Sox fan getting a gift - "I don't know anything, what it is. I don't LIKE it now though, I don't think that I like it because you don't film me when things are 'nice'"
Are any of my buddies a semi-expert on phonetics and the related physiology? I noticed that many of my typos seem like they're "mouth position based" - especially the m/b swap, but those two are generally categorized very differently. Looking at the video diagrams on this app - it seems to back my belief that they are still pretty similar. (It feels like the usual "one is a stop, one is a nasal" split is thinking of "m" at the middle or end, not at the start of words)
in response to a friend complaining about misuse of Excel at work:
I hate excel but for some people it's the duct tape for everything - leaving sticky gummy mess wherever it is applied

Camel Racing, from the best drone photos of the year

What Musical Conductors are doing...
Yeah, we're dumb as fuck over here [in England]. All our words are borrowed or loaned from other cultures except "mud", "blood", "rock" and "stick", which gives you some insight into what we were doing before the Romans showed up.